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Last modified: 25 May 2018 11:16

Course Overview

The course will train students in techniques that can be employed especially in petroleum geology, but also in other branches of geology. The techniques focus on the manipulation and interpretation of geochemical data. A 4-day field excursion is embedded within the course, to illustrate petroleum systems, including work in the evenings on organic biomarker data related to the trip, and collection of samples for subsequent laboratory work. Two portfolios of work will be prepared, on unconventional hydrocarbon sources and basin burial histories. This course is excellent preparation for further training in petroleum geology.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor John Parnell

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Programme Level 4

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either GL3018 Principles of Petroleum Geology (Passed) or GL3027 Structural Geology & Tectonics (Passed)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Geology And Petroleum Geology (GL) (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • GL4528 Geology Field Course (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

  1. Thermal history techniques, including fission track analysis, fluid inclusion analysis, biomarker analysis.
  2. Diagenesis in sedimentary basins, and consequences for exploration.
  3. Indicators of palaeogeography, palaeoenvironments, provenance, and the use of space-time diagrams.
  4. Application of biostratigraphic techniques in basin exploration.
  5. Application of petroleum geochemistry in basin exploration.
  6. Gas hydrates (clathrates): global distribution, stability; occurrence in geological history.
  7. Natural gas: origins, analysis of gases to determine origin; hydrogen springs.
  8. Shale gas/coal bed methane: Potential distribution of shale gas; prediction and detection of shale gas; coal bed methane.
  9. Hydrocarbons in basement rocks: Occurrence, commercial prospects; possibility of abiogenic hydrocarbons.
  10. Tar sands, oil shale and massive bitumen: Global distribution of tar sands, their formation and prospectivity; massive bitumen deposits; oil shales.

Associated Costs

The estimated cost for the field trip is £150.  Field notebooks will also be required at an approximate cost of £12 each.

Further Information & Notes

This course may not be taken as part of a graduating curriculum with GL 45XX Geology Field Course.

Fieldwork is a compulsory part of this course. Fieldwork may involve crossing rough terrain, including steep gradients, rocky areas and along cliffs, and may take place during inclement weather. Any student with concerns about this, who feels adjustments or additional support may be required, should contact the University's Disability Adviser or the Department Disability Co-ordinator as early as possible. The Department is committed to making reasonable adjustments to enable students to achieve the learning outcomes of the degree programme.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: In-course assessment (60%); examination (40%).

Resit: Examination (40%) and resubmission of failed elements of in-course assessment.

Formative Assessment

Practical and seminar parts of course package will allow for oral formative feedback.

Field course will be taught in small groups (2 staff and about 25 students) giving good opportunity for feedback.


Return of a series of short assessments run throughout the half-session, with feedback sheets for each. Resource prediction Report and Data interpretation report will be returned with summative comments before the end of the course.

Course Learning Outcomes


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